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Researching Bilingually:A Turkish and English caseUniversity of Manchester ‘Researching Multilingually’ Conference 22-23 May 2012 Zeynep Onat-Stelma
My HunchI have been in circumstances where I used twolanguages, Turkish and English, alongside each otherfrom an early age. I feel that I developed ‘languageidentities’ going from school to university to my doctoralstudies and that these ‘language identities’ may have hada role in shaping the way I conducted my doctoralresearch.
Today’s talk through a simplified version of RichardFay’s conceptualisation of “mapping narrativity and reflection-reflexivity” process and progress of the research study research researcher narrative narrativePart 2 of Zeynep’s talk Part 1 of Zeynep’s talk presence of the researcher’s identity Fay, R. (2008)
In “being and becoming”researchers, our histories, socialand linguistic forms of capital, andour identities position us inparticular ways in relation toparticipants and the communitiesin which they are embedded.[emphasis added] Giampapa 2011, p.133‘languageidentities’
‘Lang-ography’ Age 5 Age 8 Age 12 Age 18 Bamako, MaliMiami, USA Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul, Turkey American American English medium English medium Internationalkindergarten school university School (1 year) (6 years) (4 years) (4 years)
‘Lang-ography’ (continued) Age 22 Age 24 Age 25 Istanbul, Turkey Leeds + IstanbulResearch assistant + Leeds, UK PhD (Split-location) + Masters MEd Working for OUP and English medium (1year) Bogazici university university (6 years) (2 years)
Contexts of language use:‘Language identities’School ‘language identity’Academic ‘language identity’Professional ‘language identity’Social ‘language identity’Thinking ‘language identity’
School language identity (primary, middle and high school) :In Turkey:Speaker of Turkish with friendsSpeaker of English in lessonsWriter in English for almost all lessons (except History, Turkish,and Geography)Reader in English for almost all lessons (except History, Turkish,and GeographyReader in English for pleasureOutside Turkey:Speaker of English in all interactionsWriter in English for everythingReader in English for everything
Academic language identity (BA, MA, PhD, lecturer work) :In Turkey:Speaker of Turkish with colleagues at UniversitySpeaker of English when giving lecturesWriter in English for almost everythingReader in English for almost everythingIn the UK:Speaker of English in all interactionsWriter in English for everythingReader in English for everything
Professional language identity (OUP consultant) :In Turkey:Speaker of Turkish with colleaguesSpeaker of English with native speaker colleagues and when doing seminarsWriter in English in most situations (a few letters in Turkish to school teachers/heads)Reader in English for most situations (some documents in Turkish)
Social language identity :In the UK:Speaker of English for social purposes (colleagues and friends)In Turkey:Speaker of Turkish for social purposes (colleagues and friends)
Thinking language identity :I speculate that I am thinking in English for allacademic situations and both in English andTurkish at other times although I am not completelyaware of what is happening in my brain!!
Background: PhD experienceSplit-location scheme-switching back andforth between languages.
My language related options for data collection: InterviewsOption 1: Interview in EnglishOption 2: Interview in TurkishRelevant ‘Language Identity: Speaker of Turkish in social,academic, and professional interactionsFeels natural to interview in Turkish as this is consistentwith my ‘speaker of Turkish’ in social and academic andprofessional identity.
My language related options for data collection: ObservationsOption 1: Take notes in EnglishOption 2: Take notes in Turkish Relevant Language Identity: Writer of English in most situations Feels natural to take notes in English as I have not written much in Turkish, especially after I graduated from high school.
My language related options for data analysis: Interviews[Interviews were conducted in Turkish]Option 1: Analyse in Turkish, translate onlyfor writing upOption 2: Translate to English, then analyse Relevant Language Identity: Reader and writer in English in most situations Thinking in English for most academic work (as far as I believe!!) Feels natural to conduct analysis in English due to having spent most of my time studying (writing, reading, and thinking academically) in English.
My language related optionsfor data analysis:ObservationsNo option here, really, as I tookthe observation notes in English.Relevant ‘Language Identity: Reader and writer ofEnglish in most situationsFeels natural to do the analysis in English as I have notread or written much in Turkish, especially after Igraduated from high school.
A few questions to consider… Can we talk about researching multilingually without taking into account language identities of the researcher? What if the natural-ness does not allow the researcher to reflect on the particularities of researching bilingually?
ReferencesFay, R. (2008) The complexities and affordances of narrative in research texts: Developing narrative awareness with experienced teachers on postgraduate programmes. Paper presented at the Narrative Matters: ‘Storying our world’ Conference, Toronto, Canada.Giampapa, M. (2011) The politics of “being and becoming” a researcher: Identity, power, and negotiating the field. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, Vol.10(3), p.132-144.